Flower Hill crime up 300% this year: Begis

Flower Hill crime up 300% this year: Begis
At a Flower Hill Board of Trustee meeting on Monday night, officers Ed Vilchez and Hodge Begis addressed and answered questions from the crowd regarding recent spikes in crime. (Photo by Steven Keehner)

Between January and July 1, 2022, major crimes in Flower Hill increased by 300% from the same period last year, according to police.

At the village’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday night, officers from the Sixth Precinct provided a safety briefing. Commanding Officer Hodge Begis and Ed Vilchez spoke and took audience questions about recent crime increases.

Begis said the village saw an increase in major crime from eight incidents to 32 over the seven-month period.

“Do you know what analogy I use? I like to fish. If I go to this spot by the Wantagh Bridge, I’m going to keep going there until I can’t,” said Begis. “If I go there and I get fish every single time, I’m gonna keep going there.”

Murder, rape, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse, commercial robberies, assault felonies, residential burglaries, stolen vehicles and grand larceny are all considered major crimes.

Begis said that the number of stolen cars in Flower Hill increased from one last year to 13 this year up until July 1, the most in the precinct. He also said larcenies from auto, a misdemeanor, increased by 500% from two to 12. He added residential burglaries went up from zero to two.

This increase fits a pattern seen throughout Nassau County. Countywide crime was up 75% this year from January through March 2022 compared to 2021.

Inside the Manhasset-based Sixth Precinct, which serves the communities of East Hills, Flower Hill Great Neck Plaza, Harbor Hills, Manorhaven, Munsey Park, North Hills, Plandome, Plandome Manor, Plandome Heights, Roslyn, Roslyn Estates, Roslyn Harbor, Russell Gardens, Saddle Rock, Sea Cliff, Thomaston, Glen Head, Glenwood Landing, Great Neck, Greenvale, Manhasset, Roslyn Heights and University Gardens, there is a similar trend.

A county crime report revealed crimes inside the precinct were also up about 160% for the first three months of the year, going from 81 incidents a year earlier to 210. Stolen vehicles were up 750%, rising from six to 51. Residential burglaries also increased from eight to 20 — a 150% gain. Larceny from auto numbers were not specified.

Both officers at the Monday meeting blamed statewide bail reform as the cause of the rise in crimes.

“There’s no fear [for criminals],” said Vilchez, “because what happens is when I get arrested for stealing a car, I get bail and leave two hours later to come right back.”

Under the new bail reform legislation, most misdemeanors and non-violent offenses are exempt from bail. Judges can still set bail for serious and violent offenses, however.

The law aims to reduce the number of prisoners who are incarcerated because of their inability to pay bail. Its supporters claim it reduces unnecessary imprisonment.

“The bail reform is causing increases in crime,” said Begis. “We can talk about that all you want. We can try a lot of things, but it’s not going to change. It will feel good talking about it. It’s not gonna change anything.”

Several area officials, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, are adamant opponents of the law.

“Unfortunately, with the new bail reform, [criminals] get released,” said Vilchez. “So we can arrest these guys a thousand times, but they’ll come back a thousand times because guess what? It’s easy.”

Both officers pleaded for residents to always lock their vehicles and never leave their keys inside. Begis said how this recent wave of criminals avoids conflict.

“The good news is we don’t have many instances where bad guys want to have any kind of interaction with us,” he said. “The problem with that is if you saw the video of that house where they were trying the doors, it’s scary. It scared me. I’ve been doing this for a long time.”

He urged residents to contact the police if they notice anything unusual, noting that nobody reported the incident until nearly nine hours had passed.

“I’m not going to point fingers or anything, but they were so concerned they rolled over, went back to bed and called at 9 o’clock in the morning,” said Begis. “We can’t do anything at that point.”

Flower Hill’s next Board of Trustees meeting will be on Aug. 1 at 7:30 p.m. One can attend in-person at Village Hall or view it live on YouTube.

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